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Several families evicted from Pabha Reserve Forest in Assam

Reported by

Mahesh Deka

Legal Review by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Radhika Chatterjee

Updated by

Published on

March 21, 2023

May 10, 2023

Edited on

March 21, 2023

State

Assam

Sector

Land Use

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

500

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

450

ha

Starting Year

2021

Location of Conflict

Nowboicha

Bihpuria, Bongalmora

Lakhimpur

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Encroachment by Non-Right Holders (Other than Caste-based)

Land Conflict Summary

On January 10, 2023, the Assam State Forest Department carried out an eviction drive at Pabha Reserve Forest in North Assam’s Lakhimpur district. They were aided by district administration officials, and over 600 police and CRPF personnel during the eviction. A total of 500 families living in the reserve forest under Bihpuria and Nowboicha revenue circles of the district were evicted during the anti-encroachment drive and 450 hectares of land were cleared.

The eviction drive was conducted over two days. On the first day, evictions were carried out in the Mohghuli village. On the next day, it was the Adhakhana area of the reserve forest that was cleared of evictions.

Several houses were demolished, mustard cultivations and trees planted by the evicted families were destroyed. Around 300 families had already vacated their houses before the eviction began. While a few left on the morning of the eviction.

Speaking to LCW, one of the residents who was evicted, Rofiqul Ahmed said, “We purchased this land from a local xatradhikar (priest) three decades back. Since then we have been residing here.”

Another evicted person, who did not wish to be named, said they had applied for forest rights over the land under the Forest Rights Act of 2006. However, their applications were rejected. He further said the Assam government had provided them with land ownership in earlier decades. “When we submitted the same to this government, they rejected it.” he added.

The evicted families also claimed that they had been residing in the area for decades and paying land revenue taxes to the government.

“The people of these areas have been living here for decades. Houses were built under the PMAY scheme, Anganwadi centres were built by the state, electricity connection and roads under the MGNREGA program were all made,” said Anwarul, Lakhimpur district secretary of All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU). He questioned how these people were selected for beneficiary schemes if they were illegally residing in the area.

AIUDF chief and Lok Sabha MP Badruddin Ajmal said the eviction drive was carried out in a selective and discriminatory by targeting a particular community.

Lakhimpur Deputy Commissioner (DC) Sumit Sattawan said the people living in the encroached areas were notified by the Forest Department as well as the district administration two years back to vacate the area.

Fact Sheet

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for rehabilitation

Demand for compensation

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

What was the action taken by the police?

How many people did the police detain or arrest?

What is the current status of the detained/accused persons?

Did the person face any violence while in police custody?

Did the person face any violence while in police custody?

If any arrests took place, were the accused persons produced before a judge within 24 hours of the arrest?

If the accused was not produced before a magistrate within 24 hours, or not produced at all, what were the reasons?

Legislation under which the accused was charged

Was the accused person informed of their right to legal representation? Did the accused person have access to legal aid?

In cases where the accused person approached the court for bail, was bail granted?

Why was bail granted or rejected? If granted, what were the bail conditions and quantum of bail?

Were there any other notable irregularities that took place, or other significant details?

Details of sources (names of accused, names and numbers of any lawyers, names of any police officers contacted)

Status of Project

Original Project Deadline

Whether the Project has been Delayed

Significance of Land to Land Owners/Users

Other Natural Resource extraction/dependence, Agricultural land, Residential area

Whether the project was stalled due to land conflict

Source/Reference

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Legal Data

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 3 [Forest rights of forest-dwelling tribes to include right for conversion of pattas or leases or grant of title for forest land by State Government. Such rights also include right to in situ rehabilitation, including alternative land, if traditional forest-dwelling tribes have been illegally evicted or displaced from forestland] Section 4(5) [Forest-dwelling tribes may not be evicted from occupied forestland before registration and verification process is complete]
Assam Forest Regulation, 1891
Section 4 [Power of state government to declare any land as reserved forest]; Section 24 [Trespass of forest to be punished by fine or imprisonment]; Section 25(f) [Acts prohibited in forest to include clearing up land for cultivation or any other purpose]
Indian Forest Act, 1927
The High Court in the case had directed that before any eviction, the relevant authority must identify evictees eligible for relocation and rehabilitation. The state authorities must also ensure that basic civic liberties are ensured at the site of relocation. The Supreme Court confirmed this decision and stated that the directions passed in the High Court judgment must be complied with precisely.
Sudama Singh v. Deepak Mohan Spolia (C.A. No(s). 21806-21807/2017, Supreme Court)
The High Court in the case had directed that before any eviction, the relevant authority must identify evictees eligible for relocation and rehabilitation. The state authorities must also ensure that basic civic liberties are ensured at the site of relocation. The Supreme Court confirmed this decision and stated that the directions passed in the High Court judgment must be complied with precisely.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, A/HRC/RES/43/14, dated July 6, 2020
The Guidelines state that the government must provide just compensation and sufficient accommodation to evictees immediately. At a minimum, the government must provide access to basic facilities such as food, water, and shelter, among others.
  1. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  2. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  3. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  4. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  5. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  6. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

Yes

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

The affected communities had applied under the Forest Rights Act of 2006 to claim community forest rights.

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

The applications were rejected by the concerned authorities.

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Gauhati High Court

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Displacement

Killing

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

No alternative place was provided to the evicted people to stay.

Date of Violation

January 9, 2023

Location of Violation

Pabha Reserve Forest

Additional Information

Nature of Protest

Campaigns (grassroots organisations/press releases/media)

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Public campaign

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Assam Environment and Forest Department, Assam Revenue and Disaster Management Department

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

All Assam Minorities Students' Union (AAMSU)

Information on the use of criminal law

What was the action taken by the police?

How many people did the police detain or arrest?

What is the current status of the detained/accused persons?

Did the person face any violence while in police custody?

If any arrests took place, were the accused persons produced before a judge within 24 hours of the arrest?

If the accused was not produced before a magistrate within 24 hours, or not produced at all, what were the reasons?

Legislation under which the accused was charged

Was the accused person informed of their right to legal representation? Did the accused person have access to legal aid?

In cases where the accused person approached the court for bail, was bail granted?

Why was bail granted or rejected? If granted, what were the bail conditions and quantum of bail?

Were there any other notable irregularities that took place, or other significant details?

Resources

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Images

Image Credit:  

Image Credit:  

Video

On January 10, 2023, the Assam State Forest Department carried out an eviction drive at Pabha Reserve Forest in North Assam’s Lakhimpur district. They were aided by district administration officials, and over 600 police and CRPF personnel during the eviction. A total of 500 families living in the reserve forest under Bihpuria and Nowboicha revenue circles of the district were evicted during the anti-encroachment drive and 450 hectares of land were cleared.

The eviction drive was conducted over two days. On the first day, evictions were carried out in the Mohghuli village. On the next day, it was the Adhakhana area of the reserve forest that was cleared of evictions.

Several houses were demolished, mustard cultivations and trees planted by the evicted families were destroyed. Around 300 families had already vacated their houses before the eviction began. While a few left on the morning of the eviction.

Speaking to LCW, one of the residents who was evicted, Rofiqul Ahmed said, “We purchased this land from a local xatradhikar (priest) three decades back. Since then we have been residing here.”

Another evicted person, who did not wish to be named, said they had applied for forest rights over the land under the Forest Rights Act of 2006. However, their applications were rejected. He further said the Assam government had provided them with land ownership in earlier decades. “When we submitted the same to this government, they rejected it.” he added.

The evicted families also claimed that they had been residing in the area for decades and paying land revenue taxes to the government.

“The people of these areas have been living here for decades. Houses were built under the PMAY scheme, Anganwadi centres were built by the state, electricity connection and roads under the MGNREGA program were all made,” said Anwarul, Lakhimpur district secretary of All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU). He questioned how these people were selected for beneficiary schemes if they were illegally residing in the area.

AIUDF chief and Lok Sabha MP Badruddin Ajmal said the eviction drive was carried out in a selective and discriminatory by targeting a particular community.

Lakhimpur Deputy Commissioner (DC) Sumit Sattawan said the people living in the encroached areas were notified by the Forest Department as well as the district administration two years back to vacate the area.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for rehabilitation

Demand for compensation

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 3 [Forest rights of forest-dwelling tribes to include right for conversion of pattas or leases or grant of title for forest land by State Government. Such rights also include right to in situ rehabilitation, including alternative land, if traditional forest-dwelling tribes have been illegally evicted or displaced from forestland] Section 4(5) [Forest-dwelling tribes may not be evicted from occupied forestland before registration and verification process is complete]
Assam Forest Regulation, 1891
Section 4 [Power of state government to declare any land as reserved forest]; Section 24 [Trespass of forest to be punished by fine or imprisonment]; Section 25(f) [Acts prohibited in forest to include clearing up land for cultivation or any other purpose]
Indian Forest Act, 1927
The High Court in the case had directed that before any eviction, the relevant authority must identify evictees eligible for relocation and rehabilitation. The state authorities must also ensure that basic civic liberties are ensured at the site of relocation. The Supreme Court confirmed this decision and stated that the directions passed in the High Court judgment must be complied with precisely.
Sudama Singh v. Deepak Mohan Spolia (C.A. No(s). 21806-21807/2017, Supreme Court)
The High Court in the case had directed that before any eviction, the relevant authority must identify evictees eligible for relocation and rehabilitation. The state authorities must also ensure that basic civic liberties are ensured at the site of relocation. The Supreme Court confirmed this decision and stated that the directions passed in the High Court judgment must be complied with precisely.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, A/HRC/RES/43/14, dated July 6, 2020
The Guidelines state that the government must provide just compensation and sufficient accommodation to evictees immediately. At a minimum, the government must provide access to basic facilities such as food, water, and shelter, among others.
  1. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  2. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  3. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  4. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  5. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  6. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

Yes

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

The affected communities had applied under the Forest Rights Act of 2006 to claim community forest rights.

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

The applications were rejected by the concerned authorities.

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Gauhati High Court

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Displacement

Killing

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

No alternative place was provided to the evicted people to stay.

Date of Violation

January 9, 2023

Location of Violation

Pabha Reserve Forest

Nature of Protest

Campaigns (grassroots organisations/press releases/media)

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Public campaign

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Assam Environment and Forest Department, Assam Revenue and Disaster Management Department

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Sumit Sattawan, Deputy Commissioner, Lakhimpur District, Govt of Assam: “We have evicted only those people, who are not entitled to reside in the reserve forest under the provisions of the Forest Rights Act."

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

All Assam Minorities Students' Union (AAMSU)

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

Image Credit:  

Documented By

Text Link

Reviewed By

Text Link

Updated By

Text Link

Edited By

Text LinkLand Conflict Watch

Other Land Conflicts in Assam

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